Maximizing Your Earnings as a Wordsmith

Daniella Cressman
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So you love writing. You’d do it for free, and probably have for a long time, but, if you’re like most of us, you dream about making a living from your art. You may even be earning a bit of money already. If so, congratulations, even $20-$500 per month is a huge accomplishment in an industry that is so competitive.

1. HAVE MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME.

According to many millionaires, it’s best to have at least a few different streams of income. This is because, if one goes down the toilet, you’ll likely have at least a few others you can rely on. As writers, this can be particularly beneficial, especially since we often have to learn how to deal with the reality of earning income unpredictably.

There are many ways to create multiple streams of income as a writer. You can freelance for magazines, write a book, and do some ghostwriting as well. You may even want to apply for a job at your local newspaper: Did you know that Stephen King once had a similar job? (I know! I’m a huge fan! I’ve mentioned him so much…) Many others have as well, and they’ve said these jobs taught them a lot about writing and about meeting deadlines.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of working for a newspaper is that you almost always earn a predictable income. The con I’ve heard about a lot is that you’re often covering horrific events, and the job can be quite stressful, because, as you can imagine, the turnaround time on every piece is short, and publishing this articles is always urgent, as is editing them so that your work represents the publication well.

2. SELL THE SAME WORK MORE THAN ONCE IF YOU CAN

Many freelance writers will actually sell the same piece, with a few tweaks of course, to more than one magazine! This helps them get the best return on their investment.

3. DON’T GIVE UP IF A PIECE IS REJECTED. SIMPLY SUBMIT IT ELSEWHERE.

If your short story isn’t someone’s cup of tea, that’s okay. It might simply be because it doesn’t fit with the overall them of a particular issue of their magazine, or it’s just a bit too dark for their taste. Submit it elsewhere. It took me four years to get my short story published, and that was because I submitted it to at least 50, if not 100 different magazines. Never give up.

4. BE SUPPORTIVE TO OTHER ARTISTS

It is honestly incredibly entertaining and fulfilling to support other authors, freelance writers, musicians, and artists by purchasing their work, or at least reviewing. Similarly, I’ve found that reading other peoples’ work here on Medium is incredibly informative and entertaining in the best way. I’ve also found that, when I show interest in other peoples’ work, they’re far more likely to show interest in mine. This can lead to an increase in reviews and sales! Most importantly though, it usually leads to incredible connections withe the creative community, and I get to learn about a bunch of up-and-coming artists when they’re on their journey to enormous success! It’s a really wonderful feeling.

5. MANAGE YOUR MONEY

I’ve often heard writers say that they’re not particularly fond of math, and I totally get that — Exploring your creativity is way more fun! That being said, it’s doubly important to manage your finances if you’re a creative, especially when you’re just starting out. Also, if you ever do make it big, you’ll want to know where to put all of your funds to get the best ROI, or return on your investment: You might be filthy rich, but that doesn’t mean your assets are limitless.

Anyway…I’m getting off of my soapbox now. Basically, I’d suggest that you start funding a living expenses account if you haven’t already, set aside a bit of money for retirement, and create a budget for your expenses. For me, it’s also been enormously helpful to begrudgingly set a schedule for myself, so that I can actually treat writing like a full-time job. Some are much more disciplined than me in that regard though, so it’s totally up to you. I found myself binge-watching Netflix instead of working, so I needed a schedule!

I Will Teach You How to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi a great book about how to manage your resources, budget, and ultimately, get rich, and it actually doesn’t involve meticulous budgeting on a daily basis (You can still have some “fun money” as he calls it! I highly recommend it!

Happy Writing!

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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